Yes, you are right. I have not explored the franchise in deep detail because my simplistic view was only meant to be a starting point for a bigger debate. I think your contribution is great, because it gives us all an opportunity to think and research about all possibilities. There are, as you say, individual situations like your family’s that needs more careful thought.
I think the very first thing that will need to be established is what Scottish citizenship is. That is the crucial point. Citizenship is what should give you the right to vote in constitutional matters and should be defined in Scotland’s constitution. To me, this rule should be applicable to determine who can vote in a referendum or not independently if Scotland is already an independent country.
The rules of automatic citizenship are different for different countries. In some countries, like USA, Chile, Argentina, Canada, Mexico or Venezuela, to cite some, the birthplace is direct determinant of citizenship. if you are born in the country you are given automatically the citizenship. In Spain, for example, you do not get automatic citizenship if you are born in Spain. However, if a baby is born in Spain from non Spanish parents, the baby can acquire Spanish citizenship if they live in Spain for a year. Other countries have different rules for this scenario.
However, in most countries in Europe, automatic citizenship is for ancestry, meaning that to get automatic citizenship at least one of your parents have to be citizens, even if you are born elsewhere. The UK also follows this rule. If this was the option selected for Scotland, not just you, but also your children would automatically get their Scottish citizenship and right to vote at moment of birth through you.
In some countries, like Spain or France, if you are a Spanish/French citizen, even if you are not living in Spain/France at the time, you are entitled to vote in general elections and referendums (by post). However, the rule used by the UK, is that people who has lived for over 15 years abroad loses their right to vote. But they of course would recover it as soon as they return to live in the UK. In other countries, I think Denmark is an example, besides being a Danish citizen you have to be living in the country at the time to be able to vote with a few exceptions. I must admit I favour the rules of Denmark regarding residence plus citizenship as both being requisites to be able to vote. However, considering the high level of emigration from Scotland over the years, I think it should be a matter of wider discussion, what happens with those Scottish citizens by birth/ancestry who had to leave Scotland temporarily for work reasons.
With regards to your wife, the countries I have looked at would allow the person to apply for citizenship after being married to a citizen and residing in the country for a certain length of time that is shorter than naturalisation for residence. To give you examples, in France is four years. In the UK and Germany is three years. In Italy is 2 years and in Spain is one year. For USA the process of acquiring citizenship for a spouse is lengthy and complex but it requires 3 years of residence in USA after the marriage before the application for citizenship can be submitted. Your wife would get the vote depending of the rules adopted by Scotland regarding the length of residence in Scotland required after the marriage prior to application for citizenship.
All countries I have seen have also the possibility of naturalisation by residence. These people are given full rights to vote. Here is where the length of time to be elegible needs to be established and that for me should be not less than 10 years.
Regarding children of people naturalised, in the countries I have looked at, if they are under 18 the application for naturalisation can be made as the same time as the parents . this is the case in the Uk as well. If they are older than 18 and the parents are just applying for citizenship, then the children would have to submit their application separately. Personally I don’t think this would apply to your children, because they would acquire citizenship through your own by ancestry.
All the above would be of course applicable for a referendum after Scotland becomes independent. Once Scotland takes full control of its affairs it can establish consulates and embassies around the world and people who lives abroad and were born in Scotland/are of Scottish ancestry from their parents/married to a Scottish citizen, would be able to apply for Scottish citizenship.
But for as long as Scotland is not independent, it cannot use consulates/embassies for example to study applications and grant citizenship to people living outwith Scotland. In this case, therefore, the requisite of residence besides citizenship becomes important for practical reasons. You live in Scotland and have Scottish ancestry, so you should have automatic right to vote under the franchises of most countries. From the franchises I have seen, if your wife has lived in Scotland after being married to you for a certain length of time (which varies with each country and which would have to be determined for Scotland), then she would also get the right to vote. The length of residence in that case is the crucial point. Because of your own ancestry, under the franchises of most countries in Europe your children would be able to apply for citizenship and the right to vote too,
This is a useful debate and as Mia demonstrates there is no need for Scotland to be harsh or exceptional here. No the aim should be to clear up the current ridiculous and fiddled franchise that is clearly designed to dilute the voting power of native Scots in favour of incomers who are more likely to oppose Scottish Independence. To bring the Scottish franchise into line with what is common throughout Europe and the wider world. As Mia and the debate on this site has already demonstrated the discussion can be civilised and pleasant when people realise that it is our imposed current franchise that is the exception here, not the suggested alternatives.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
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